Very few expect it. And no one ever wants to go through it.
But a high-risk pregnancy can happen to absolutely anyone.
You can do everything right: take prenatals for months before you conceive, eat organic foods and get excellent prenatal care.
Still, pregnancy complications can arise.
A high-risk pregnancy, no matter what complications you face, causes tremendous anxiety.
Your head starts to spin as try to make sense of all of the new medical terminology and worry whether your baby will be safe or if you will deliver early.
Like many moms, you turn to the internet to learn more about their medical conditions and to find any information that can predict the prognosis of your pregnancy.
You just want to know if your baby will be ok.
As a perinatal wellness counselor, how my clients cope with their high-risk pregnancy is one of my biggest concerns.
The emotions that you feel on this high-risk pregnancy roller-coaster not only take away from being able to enjoy your your growing belly but can further complicate your pregnancy and impact your baby during and after your pregnancy.
What you need to know
To help prevent additional pregnancy complications, preterm birth and antepartum and postpartum mood or anxiety disorders, here are the top 3 things every mom with a high-risk pregnancy need to know.
1. Stress is a tremendous risk factor for your health, your baby’s health and the health of your pregnancy.
I can’t tell you how frequently I hear from moms who delivered early or went into preterm labor who share that they are confident stress played a huge role in how their pregnancy played out.
They’re absolutely right.
Emotional stress significantly affects our bodies. During pregnancy, stress also impacts your baby. (Tweet that!)
Stress during pregnancy is linked to an increased rate of neonatal loss, low birth weight and preterm birth.
In fact, women with high levels of stress during pregnancy have a 25 to 60% higher risk for delivering early even after accounting for other established risk factors for a preterm delivery. (Clin Perinatol. 2011).
According to the March of Dimes, chronic stress in women can also cause pregnancy complications such as hypertension in mom and developmental delays in babies.
Chronic stress also increases your risk for developing depression and during pregnancy depression has been linked to preterm birth. (Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res, 2012)
The takeaway is that stress management must be part of your treatment plan when you have a high-risk pregnancy. Don’t let stress or anxiety be the reason your pregnancy becomes more complicated. (Tweet that!)
2. A high-risk pregnancy is traumatic.
Feeling like you’re a ticking time bomb waiting for the worst to happen, not knowing when (or if) it will happen is extremely stressful. The anxiety you feel worrying about your baby is at an all time high, every second of every day.
A high-risk pregnancy is a type of trauma for many moms.
I typically see women who have been through a high-risk pregnancy notice the effects of that trauma about 2.5-3 months after baby comes home.
That’s when things have calmed down. There isn’t an emergency happening every day and that’s when your mind starts to process what you’ve been through.
It takes many moms by surprise because everything’s over and they feel like they should just be happy. And yet they can’t seem to shake off the feeling like something bad could still happen at any second.
This can show up in a variety of different ways.
For some moms it’s bursting into tears frequently or avoiding places that remind you of the scary times during your pregnancy. You may feel like your heart stops when you hear the microwave beep because it reminds you of a monitor in the hospital. Or you might find yourself waking up in a sweat because of a nightmare you had about losing your baby.
The takeaway is getting support during your pregnancy can help prevent your stress reactions from escalating and developing into a trauma response or PTSD. (Tweet that!)
3. Being proactive can help lower additional pregnancy risks.
Having a high-risk pregnancy can make you feel completely helpless. However, there are ways to regain some control which is important for lowering stress and anxiety and thus can prevent additional pregnancy and postpartum complications.
Be involved in your medical care, ask questions so you can make confident decisions and understand your treatment plan so there is no doubt about what you’re doing and why.
For more detailed ideas of how to be proactive, grab the free pregnancy management checklist.
Most importantly, if you’re struggling, reach out for support. Ask for help from your friends, family and partner or work with a trusted professional to help you manage your emotions as you're fighting for your baby.
Research has found that when women receive professional emotional support can reduce the risk of preterm birth by at least 58%. (Int Arch Med, 2015).
Additionally, support during pregnancy can lower your risk of postpartum mood disorders, anxiety disorders and trauma response, which will allow you to really enjoy the life that you’re fighting so hard for when your baby comes home.
The takeaway is that though you may feel like your hands are tied when it comes to how your pregnancy will progress, being proactive with your physical and emotional health care has a direct impact on the health of your pregnancy and your baby. (Tweet that!)
Did anything in this post surprise you? If you’ve had a high-risk pregnancy is there anything else you’d add to this list for other moms who are going through what you’ve been through?
Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!